Hit Hard by Facebook Algorithm Changes, LittleThings Shuts Down

LittleThings, a 4-year-old content website focused on producing original videos and positive stories, closed its doors at the end of February.

The popular site – which at its peak had 58 million unique visitors – depended heavily on Facebook traffic for distribution. After Facebook’s January announcement that it would be changing its News Feed algorithm to prioritize posts from friends and family, LittleThings suffered a significant reduction in traffic.

Joe Speiser, CEO, and Gretchen Tibbits, president and COO, announced the company’s closure in a staff memo on February 27, writing, “It pains me to have to write this and hang up our hat, but there are only so many hits a digital media company can afford to absorb in this day and age, and we just exceeded ours.”

LittleThings’ leadership said the shutdown was a direct result of Facebook’s updated algorithm; the site’s organic traffic and influencer traffic had plummeted 75% since late January.

“No previous algorithm update ever came close to this level of decimation,” the memo said. “The position it put us in was beyond dire.”

LittleThings is the first well-known site to fall prey to Facebook’s recent changes, but it’s not likely to be the last. Digiday is reporting that other companies that rely on Facebook News Feed visibility are also worried about their future, including publishers, talent-management agencies and user-generated content distributors. 

Takeaways from LittleThings’ Shutdown

We’ve warned against overreacting to this latest Facebook algorithm change (or any social media platform update, for that matter). It’s still new, and marketers and brands are figuring out what the long-term repercussions will be.

We’ve also found good reason to feel optimistic about the future of influencer marketing on Facebook. As the News Feed features fewer viral videos and news articles, there is more room for personal connections, including from influencers who take the time to build real relationships with their followers, and tell a brand’s story from a consumer’s point of view.

But we’re not denying that the Facebook update has disrupted the way many marketers have used the platform for years. And now it’s time to adapt to the new landscape or face extinction.

Strategies that worked in the past – like relying on organic reach – simply won’t cut it anymore. It’s a difficult, but important, reminder that putting all your eggs in one basket is never a good idea. A diversified strategy, including influencer partnerships, paid ads and efforts on other social platforms is the smart way forward.

Get in touch with MtoM about improving your social media strategy.

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